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Cup of Christ - Gift of God.

Two beloved disciples asked the Lord for thrones of glory He gave them His cup. (Matt. 20:23) The Cup of Christ is suffering. To those who drink from it on earth, the Cup of Christ grants participation in Christ’s Kingdom of grace; it prepares for them the thrones of eternal glory in heaven.

Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov

We stand in silence before the Cup of Christ, nor can any man complain about it or reject it; for He who commanded us to taste it, first drank of it Himself. O tree of the knowledge of good and evil! You killed our ancestors in Paradise, you deceived them by the delusions of sensual pleasure and the delusions of reason. Christ, the Redeemer of the fallen, brought His Cup of salvation into this world, to the fallen and to those who are exiled from Paradise. The bitterness of this Cup cleanses the heart from forbidden, destructive and sinful pleasure; through the humility flowing from it in abundance, pride of understanding on the carnal level is mortified.

To him who drinks from the Cup with faith and patience, the eternal life which was and still is lost to him by his tasting of forbidden fruit will be restored.

“I will accept the Cup of Christ, the cup of salvation.” (Psalm 116:13) The cup is accepted when a Christian bears earthly tribulation in the spirit of humility learned from the Gospel. Saint Peter turned swiftly with a naked sword to defend the God-man, who was surrounded by evil doers; but the meek Jesus said to Peter: “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup My Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11) So you too, when disaster surrounds you, should comfort and strengthen your soul, saying: “The Cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

The Cup is bitter: at first sight all human reasoning is confounded.

Surmount reason by faith and drink courageously from the bitter Cup: it is the Father who gives it to you, He who is all good and all wise. It is neither the Pharisees, nor Caiaphas, nor Judas who prepared the Cup, it is neither Pilate nor his soldiers who gave it! “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” The Pharisees think evil, Judas betrays, Pilate orders the unlawful killing, the soldiers of the government execute his order. Through their evil deeds all these prepared their own true perdition. Do not prepare for yourself just such a perdition by remembering evil, by longing for and dreaming of revenge, and by indignation against your enemies. The heavenly Father is almighty and all-seeing: He sees your afflictions, and if He had found it necessary and profitable to withdraw the Cup from you, He certainly would have done so.

The Lord as the Scriptures and Church history testify has often allowed afflictions to befall His beloved, and often warded off afflictions from them, in accordance with the unfathomable ways of Providence. When you are faced with the Cup, turn your gaze from the people who give it to you; lift your eyes to Heaven and say: “The Cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

I will take the cup of salvation. I cannot reject the Cup, the promise of heavenly and eternal good.

The apostle of Christ teaches me patience when he says: “...we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) How can one reject the Cup which is the means of attaining this Kingdom and growing within it? I will accept the Cup the gift of God. The Cup of Christ is the gift of God. The great Paul writes to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29) You receive the Cup which seemingly comes from the hand of man. What is it to you whether the bearer of the Cup acts righteously or unrighteously? As a follower of Jesus, your concern is to act righteously; to receive the Cup with thanksgiving to God and with a living faith; and courageously to drink it to the dregs. In receiving the Cup from man, remember it is the Cup of Him who is not only innocent but all-holy. Thinking on this, remind yourself and other suffering sinners of the words that the blessed and enlightened thief spoke when he was crucified on the right hand of the crucified God-man: “We receive the due reward of our deeds... Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” (Luke 23: 41 & 42)

And then, turning to the people, you will say to them: “Blessed are you who are instruments of the righteousness and of the mercy of God, blessed are you henceforth and forever more!” (If they are not in a fit state to understand and receive your words, do not cast your precious pearls of humility under the feet of those who cannot value them, but say these words in thought and heart.) By this alone will you fulfill the commandment of the Gospel which says: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you...” (Matt. 5:44) Pray to the Lord, on behalf of those who have insulted and outraged you, that what they have done for you should be repaid by a temporal blessing and eternal reward of salvation, and that when they stand before Christ to be judged, it should be counted to them as if it had been an act of virtue. Although your heart does not wish to act in this way, compel it to do so: because only those who do violence to their own heart in fulfilling the commandments of the Gospel can inherit Heaven. If you have not the will to act this way, then you have not the will to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look deep within yourself; consider searchingly: have you not found another teacher, the teacher of hatred the devil and fallen under his power?

It is a terrible transgression to offend or to oppress one’s neighbor: it is a most terrible transgression to commit murder. But whoever hates his oppressor, his slanderer, his betrayer, his murderer, and whoever thinks ill of them and takes revenge on them, commits a sin very near to their sin. In vain does he pretend to himself and others that he is righteous. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer of man, proclaimed Saint John, the beloved disciple of Christ. (I John 3:15)

A living faith in Christ teaches one to receive the Cup of Christ, and the Cup of Christ inspires hope in the heart of him who receives it; and hope in Christ gives strength and consolation to the heart. What torment of hell to complain or to murmur against the pre-destined Cup from above! Murmuring, impatience, faint-heartedness and especially despair are sins before God; they are the ugly children of sinful disbelief. It is sinful to complain of neighbors when they are the instruments of our suffering; still more sinful is it when we cry out against the Cup that comes down to us straight from Heaven, from the right hand of God. He who drinks the Cup with thanksgiving to God and blessings on his neighbor, achieves holy serenity, the grace of the peace of Christ. It is as if already he enjoys God’s spiritual Paradise.


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